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A Breakdown of Our Most Successful Infographic of 2011 and Why it Worked So Well

The last 3 years, infographics have grown as one of the most effective marketing tools available. They're easily sharable on social media, can offer tremendous SEO benefits, and can help your dealership offer content that people enjoy seeing.

Still, it's also the most underutilized tool by the automotive industry. A lot of it is our fault; vendors in the automotive space have seen infographics as too challenging and too expensive to bring to market. We've had a handful of forward-thinking dealers take advantage of it, but there hasn't been nearly the adoption that has occurred in other industries.

Even at the OEM level, Ford is the only company that has dipped their toes into infographics and found success.

First, let's look at what they do for dealerships:

  • - They give content to visitors of both their websites and social media profiles an item will be shared. People share good content on Facebook and Twitter. They don't share new car specials pages. Some have asked what the benefit is. We've seen that when people share content on Facebook, a good percentage of it is localized. Friends, relatives, and coworkers that see a nice piece of content from a friend will visit the link and land on your site. If you're running remarketing campaigns or simply going for social media exposure, landing them on your site is an opportunity to generate a lead. Don't forget, every Facebook user has 8-9 Facebook friends who are in the market to buy a vehicle in the next 30 days.
  •  - Powerful inbound links are the most important aspect of search engine optimization. Having graphics that can be embedded on other sites is an opportunity to use this "link bait" to generate free links to your site.
  • - Infographics that portray useful information such as proper SYNCing on a Ford or localized information such as a crime-rate map of the area positions the dealership website as a resource on top of being a place to look at cars. Whenever you can become a resource for people, they are more likely to want to do business with you.

Once you know what they do for you, let's take a look at the most successful infographic that we built in 2011. This particular one was generated for a non-automotive client but it will be easy to see why it was so successful. Here are the stats:

  • - Posted on over 400 websites that linked back to the source, including high-value websites that included the New York Times, Mashable, TheNextWeb, and TheAtlantic.
  • - Shared on Facebook over 17,000 times with Mashable having the highest share-rate of nearly 10,000.
  • - Tweeted over 25,000 times with Mashable again leading the way with over 6,000 retweets.
  • - Estimated 2.3 million views of the infographic.
  • - Made the front page of Digg, Reddit, and went viral for 3 different sites on StumbleUpon.

Now, here's the infographic. If you have any questions about why it worked so well or how it translates in the automotive industry, please feel free to email me or ask in the comments.

Click to enlarge.

Views: 632


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Comment by J.D. Rucker on January 2, 2012 at 1:53pm

Tim - That's a good point. I tend to get ahead of myself, don't I?

One of the primary goals of an infographic is to operate as "link bait" for a website. When website owners see an infographic that works for their site, they can grab the embed code associated with infographic, save the image itself, or copy the source URL. From there, they can attribute the infographic with a link.

For example, if you search for "social media strategy firm" you'll see at the top. This is one of our properties that we created with an embed code on an infographic. Once we promoted the infographic through social media, the links to the site started to rise dramatically. Now, this little player amongst giants in the social media marketing arena is ranked above most others for the term.

When you think of "social media blogs" you'll probably think of Mashable, Techcrunch, TheNextWeb, or ReadWriteWeb. You may even think of Scott Monty's site. You probably don't think of, but there it is ranked high on the page as well.

These rankings can be attributed to infographic placement as link bait and promotion of the article on social news sites. Search for "History of Acura" and you'll see a dealer with an infographic ranked well on the page. The embed code at the bottom was used by several websites (with more being added every week) and the site is getting link authority like crazy.

Comment by Timothy Martell on January 2, 2012 at 7:24am

JD - great post. I'd love to have an off thread conversation about how info graphics can be successful at the dealer level.

On thread, could you explain to the group how info graphics can have a positive SEO impact. I think most people normally attribute graphically oriented content as NOT having SEO value. Thanks!

Comment by J.D. Rucker on December 29, 2011 at 8:38pm

Chip - Sorry for the late reply (had to look up "ad hominem").

I'm not sure where the personal attack you're referring to was. I read and reread my reply and I'm not sure if you took offense to "because your mind is set" or "contrary to your product line" but either way it definitely wasn't meant as a personal attack on you. I respect your work in your own field and would never question your authority about email marketing. I'm just pointing out the math regarding social media and how the numbers you were quoting we, in fact, impossible.

Comment by Chip Dorman on December 29, 2011 at 4:13pm

JD -

When you resort to ad hominem arguments, you lose.


Comment by J.D. Rucker on December 29, 2011 at 2:40pm

Ralph, you're on. I'll call you next year.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 29, 2011 at 8:24am

JD - I would really love to have your team develop an Infographic for me...  That sounds very, very cool, interesting and would attract a lot of attention.

Comment by J.D. Rucker on December 28, 2011 at 10:09pm

Chip, as far as using infographics at the tier-1 or -2 level, your argument is completely valid. We've seen it work at the dealer level (ask the #1 Acura dealer in the world about infographics) but it's definitely only effective for those who are extremely aggressive with their online marketing.

Regarding Facebook, there's no point in arguing about it because your mind is set. For the sake of the readers, I think it's important to demonstrate that your numbers are statistically impossible. Let's work the numbers backwards to make it a little easier:

You say that in any given month, a Facebook user has 0.67% (or less) of their friends who are in the market to buy a car, which basically means about 1 per month.

If I were to buy a car, I would represent the 1 person for that month to 134 of my friends, which means none of their other friends are in the market that month to buy a car. Their other friends, 134 of them each, who aren't buying a car means that there are up to 17,946 people who aren't buying a car (if none of my friends are friends with any of my other friends, and none of their friends are friends with their other friends, etc).

In reality, friends and coworkers ARE friends with each other. We'll use a high number of 50% cross-friending (impossible, but it's important to use high numbers so that it's indisputable). That means that I was the one person in a given month out of around 9000 friends and friends of friends to have bought a car (because 1 or fewer friends are in the market in any given month according to your numbers). If EVERY US citizen of car buying age was on Facebook (which they aren't but again we want to prove the point beyond a shadow of a doubt) which is around 240,000,000 and only 1 out of 9000 bought a car every month, there would be about 27,000 cars sold per month.


Let's look at this in the other direction. The average Facebook-using, middle- and upper-middle class family owns 2.5 vehicles and adds or replaces a vehicle every 17 months. Using basic math, out of 135 Facebook friends in any given month, there are 7.94 who are in the market this month. That doesn't mean that 8 friends will each buy cars - you may be friends with mom, dad, and 17-yr old little Timmy all at the same time.

The goal of Facebook is to get in front of people. It's to become part of the conversation when they're not buying a car and to definitely be a part of the conversation when they are. It's not easy - most dealers are finding that social media is too challenging to achieve a real ROI. Those who excel at it or want to excel at it (such as those who read ADM, for example) have the potential to achieve what the Tim Martells and Jeff Cryders of the world have already done - sold cars as a direct result of their Facebook efforts.

I know you are the email guru and it's important for you to keep people focused on your product, but please don't try to confuse people just because social media is a "hot topic" that's contrary to your product line.

Comment by Chip Dorman on December 28, 2011 at 2:30pm

JD - Math still doesn't pencil according to your statement. Let's try this another way... in any given year, what percent of Facebook users are going to buy a car? If it's 8% like I used, that's 64 million, which is about what your data source is saying for estimated total sales worldwide in  2011.

It's imperitive that dealers understand the limitations and math behind Social Media.

A more accurate statement, but far less sexy if you're trying to sell clients your Social Media services, would be that in any one month, less than 1%, of Facebook users are possibly in the market for a car. Actually it's about .0067. And even that's high, because we all know that there are a lot of people who are going to buy a car who are not on Facebook.

Further, from a Dealer's perspective, there are even fewer people who are possible prospects because so many Facebook Friends are not local, they are spread around the world. So while I might influence a friend in New York to buy a Ford because of something I post, it's not going to help a So Cal dealer. Which means that development of Social Media materials like infographics is really suited to manufacturers and local dealer associations, with the possible exception of dealers in very densly populated areas, unless you can put together something really fast and cheap that will appeal to a local audience...

Comment by J.D. Rucker on December 28, 2011 at 12:14pm

Tom - We have friends at sites like Mashable, MotorAuthority and FastCompany who publish the infographics. From there, they get picked up naturally by the blogs and websites that find them there.

Chip - It's definitely not hype, it's just a little tougher math than what you used.

Friends are shared. It's not a 1-to-1 ratio. The average user has 135 friends on Facebook. If, for example, you are in the market to buy a car in the next month, than you represent 1 of the 8 or 9 people for 135 people. It's not a unique instance. In other words, it's not 8 or 9 unique individuals buying a car per Facebook user. It's every Facebook user knows 8 or 9 people who are in the market to buy a car. For each of those 8 or 9 people, there's 134 other people who also have them as friends.

Even at 100 friends average (for easier math) that would pull your numbers down from 6.4 billion to 64 million. According to global sales in 2011 were expected to hit 65 million.

Hope that clarifies.

Comment by Chip Dorman on December 28, 2011 at 9:36am

Where did you get this stat? "Don't forget, every Facebook user has 8-9 Facebook friends who are in the market to buy a vehicle in the next 30 days."

There are over 800 million active Facebook users according to Facebook. If every user had 8 friends that bought a car in the next year, that's 6.4 billion car sales!

If 8% of Facebook users bought a car next year, that's 64 million, which, depending on where you get your data, is more than all of the new and used cars sold in the world each year!

I'm not knocking Social Media or Facebook, but let's not over-hype its influence either...



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